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How Did This One Get Past Us? Flash Of Genius Movie Review

This evening I was talking with my in-laws about their anniversary celebrations and they went to see a movie. One particularly noteworthy for an automotive website. Flash of Genius is a new film starring Greg Kennear and is the story of Robert Kearns, the inventor of the intermittent windshield wipers for the automobile. It’s a story of basic American inginuity and greed of automobile corporations who refused to give proper credit and royalties to someone whom they considered “small potatoes” and could ignore. Working in his basement, Kearns devises the first intermittent wiper from off-the-shelf components and tested it in a fish tank. In 1967 he patented the idea. He later demonstrated the concept to Ford executives, but wouldn’t tell them how it worked until he had a deal. After Ford ripped it off and reneged on the deal, he sued in them in 1978 and Chrysler for similar reasons in 1982. After numerous lawsuits and counter suits, Ford lost. The court said Ford’s infringement was not deliberate, and Ford agreed to settle with Kearns monetarily for $10.2 million with an agreement of no further appeals (and no admission of wrongdoing). It wasn’t until 1992 that the Chrysler verdict was decided. The initial Chrysler court decision was challenged and eventually went all the way to the Supreme Court who ruled in 1995 against Chrysler. They were evetually ordered to pay Kearns $18.7 million (with interest). By 1995, after spending over $10 million in legal fees, Robert Kearns received approximately $30 million in compensation for the work he completed on the intermittant windsheild wiper.

Flash of Genius is a great movie for guys who like gadgets. It’s a movie for engineers and everything they devote their passion to. For those of us who love to create things, Flash of Genius brings an intriguing real life story to the screen and lets ‘car guys’ into a part of the car we all take for granted. I highly recommend Flash of Genius to anyone looking for an intellectual and inspirational drama. Greg Kennear reflects the character of Robert Kearns well and I would expect he would be proud of this movie and it’s depiction of his story.